The so-called “sharing economy” is already big business. Mobile services let people use private cars as taxis, rent their cars to each other or share them among neighbors. As disruptive services continue to increase utilization of vehicles, Susan Kuchinskas looks at new business models for automakers after the era of single-driver cars.
Let’s redefine some terms. I may let my daughter use my car; that’s sharing. When I charge a stranger for a ride, that’s business – a business that’s already worth billions to Uber alone.
The great shift in patterns of car ownership and usage that’s begun isn’t about sharing. It’s more akin to the software-as-a-service model that’s taken over from the olden days when you bought a CD and loaded software on a PC. Now, we call this cloud services, and the cloud is poised to deliver mobility as a service, making access to vehicles more convenient while increasing utilization of individual cars.
“The total addressable market in the U.S. alone is hundreds of billions of dollars, based on how much people spend on gas,” says Christian Fritz, area manager of the representation and planning (RAP) area at PARC, the innovation lab owned by Xerox.
If the operating cost of a personal car would be supplanted by mobility as a service, he adds, “That’s a big pie that needs to be divvied up and fought over.”
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